With the huge wave of COVID 19 that has struck this world, it is evident that all healthcare professionals are busy saving the lives of the many victims of this deadly virus. The only way to ensure everyone’s safety was to impose a worldwide lockdown. No matter how necessary this lockdown was, it also led to many non-essential companies and facilities closing down their businesses so that social distancing could be maintained and ultimately save many from the virus. However, for the ones who had been waiting long to get their infertility treatments done are at a loss. There were many who were all set to receive IVF treatment and start their own family, but this lockdown made all fertility centers to close, making them go through emotional distress.
What is IVF? Is it alright to get IVF treatment at this stage of the pandemic?
IVF is one of the many successful techniques that is employed to bring joy to couples who have long been wanting to have children but couldn’t. The process alone of getting IVF treatment is not an easy one and comes with a lot of challenges. Couples often spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of visits to the hospital to get through with the procedure, which sometimes also has low chances of being successful. However, the big question that arises is whether it is safe for couples to go for IVF treatments during the pandemic or not. Moreover, it’s even more concerning for many whether it is safe for their baby to be born when the hospital is infected with a fatal infection.
“Despite many hospitals still offering their services such as IVF, it is not safe to get any kind of procedures done, especially when the virus is such a big threat to everyone.”
Is it ethically/morally correct or safe to get IVF treatment in these conditions?
Ever since the cases of COVID-19 kept increasing, governments all around the world discontinued procedures that were non-essential, so that doctors, as well as the hospital staff, could give all their time to the patients suffering from the life-threatening virus.
In accordance with that, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a set of guidance protocols to be followed from the midst of March 2020 to shine more light on the matter. This set of instructions included making sure that all new treatment cycles were suspended. This included ovulation induction, IUIs (intrauterine inseminations) as well as IVF treatments. This decision was majorly imposed in order to prevent the spread of the virus along with the preservation of all the healthcare equipment and facilities that could be used in the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19.
However, different protocols have been followed by different states. Therefore, in some countries outside of the United States, infertility clinics are functional and are providing all kinds of treatments, which brings us to a very important discussion of whether couples should seek treatment from these centers or not given the situation of hospitals. Despite many hospitals still offering their services such as IVF, it is not safe to get any kind of procedures done, especially when the virus is such a big threat to everyone.
This is advised because the susceptibility of acquiring the infection becomes three folds when visiting hospitals to get such treatments. Moreover, whoever performs those treatments will require a set of PPE (personal protective equipment) which can very well be used by those doctors and physicians that are dealing with patients of COVID-19 and are suffering from its shortage. The reason why infertility and implantation treatments as considered as non-essential treatment procedures is because it does not act as a life-saving procedure. Essential treatments are considered important because, without them, a person can lose his/her life. Therefore, the procedure done for IVF does not qualify as one, as both the husband and wife would still live a healthy life, regardless of getting this treatment done.
In fact, this procedure can also become harmful if successfully carried out, during this pandemic. According to research, it has been seen that mothers infected with COVID-19 can easily pass the virus on to her baby. This leaves the baby with the weakest immunity being infected with a virus that has taken the lives of many. There are also many pieces of evidence that suggest that pregnant women infected with COVID-19 are at an increased risk of delivering her baby pre-term as compared to those who are not infected. Therefore, postponing IVF treatment can prevent serious health problems, it can potentially be harmful to both the mother and the unborn child.
- Courage, K. (2020, April 14). Can you still do IVF during the coronavirus pandemic? Retrieved May 25, 2020, from https://www.vox.com/2020/4/14/21219666/us-coronavirus-pandemic-ivf-fertility-clinics
- Hammarberg, K., & Rombauts, L. (2020, May 11). IVF is changing now clinics have reopened. Here’s what to expect during the coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved May 25, 2020, from https://theconversation.com/ivf-is-changing-now-clinics-have-reopened-heres-what-to-expect-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-137709
- Thomas, S., & Caplan, A. (2020, April 29). Are infertility treatments ‘essential’ during the Covid-19 pandemic? Retrieved May 25, 2020, from https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/30/infertility-treatments-essential-or-not-during-covid-19-pandemic/
- La Marca A, Niederberger C, Pellicer A, Nelson SM. COVID-19: lessons from the Italian reproductive medical experience. Fertility and sterility. 2020 May;113(5):920.